Louie C.K. is a champ: that’s short for champion. This year has been a big one for the stand-up comedian; between the awkward award show moments, a critically acclaimed 3rd season of his show on FX and the beginning of a brand new stand-up tour, Louie’s been busy. The greatest thing about his success is that he is in complete control of it. He is one of the rare performers who has total creative freedom to do what he wants to do. What we get is exactly what Louie wants us to get. This fact makes his success that much more sweet.
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing the first stop on his new stand-up tour in Toronto. He played 4 sold out shows as part of a new Just for Laughs festival. Louie has taken a page from the late great George Carlin: who would scrap his stand-up routine every year and start from scratch. You would never know that this was the first time that these jokes were being road tested. Mr. C.K. never faltered and had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the moment he stepped on stage. He covered topics ranging from the joys of middle age, the psychology of strangers and the envelope of compassion. My favourite bit involved him inadvertently inheriting an old woman at an airport. Louie has an astounding way of articulating the things that people think way in the back of their minds but would never say. The beautiful thing about these observations is that he is never mean about his subjects. He only draws attention to the frustrations we all share about the society we live in.
This is a major theme of his television show Louie. He plays himself navigating through life as a single dad of two girls performing stand-up along the way. Although the premise sounds pretty straight forward, it’s like no other show on T.V. Louie is an extended character study with moments of laugh out loud hilarity, unconventional narratives, awkward moments that start to spiral before your eyes, absurdest surrealist vignettes and then in the middle of all that, you’ll get these quiet reflective moments on the small pleasures of life. Sometimes I feel it’s more of a drama with comedic moments thrown in. Whatever it is, it’s completely satisfying.
The outstanding season 3 just finished and I would count it among some the greatest television of the day. He had a long line of guest stars that included: Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams, Jay Leno, Chloe Sevigny, Garry Marshall, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld. In all that talent, the two that stole the show were David Lynch as a talk show life coach and Parker Posey as a damaged quirky bookstore clerk that takes Louie on a wondrous first date. Parker Posey’s performance inflates your heart to the point of bursting and then she pops it like a balloon. She is a true champ and that’s short for champion.